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Source: South Africa News Agency

The by-elections taking place in 95 wards across 55 municipalities in all nine provinces have kicked off on a good note, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) said.

Voting in almost all the voting stations started at 7am and is expected to close at 9pm at 455 voting stations, 233 (51%) of which are in schools, 65 (14%) are in places of worship and 157 (35%) are in other structures.

The results of the by-elections are expected to be announced by midday on Thursday.

The by-elections are being contested by 40 political parties, with a total of 444 candidates certified as contestants. This includes 19 independent candidates.

Of the candidates, 305 (69%) are male and 139 (31%) are female.

On Monday, the Chief Electoral Officer of the IEC, Sy Mamabolo, said everything was ready and in place for the by-elections.

The by-elections are the first to be held since election activities were suspended in March this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are a “catch-up” of all by-elections postponed between March and September.

Mamabolo said a total of 609 133 voters are on the certified voters’ rolls for the various by-elections.

A total of 23 008 individuals (3.7%) applied and were approved to cast special votes. Of these, 12 218 are via home visits and 10 790 will cast special votes at voting stations.

“The Electoral Commission is confident that the by-elections will be free, fair and safe – as long as all stakeholders conform to the strict safety measures and protocols put in place at voting stations.

“Protective equipment, including masks, gloves and face shields, have been procured for election staff at voting stations and for conducting home visits for those voters who are physically disabled, infirm or pregnant,” Mamabolo said on Monday.

The Electoral Commission said it is confident that all logistical, human resource and safety preparations are in place to ensure free, fair and safe elections.

Of the 95 wards (by-elections):

• 20 are in the Northern Cape across eight municipalities;

• 19 are in the Eastern Cape across 13 municipalities;

• 14 are in Gauteng across six municipalities;

• 12 are in KwaZulu-Natal across nine municipalities;

• 11 are in the Western Cape across 5 municipalities;

• Six are in the North West across four municipalities;

• Five are in Mpumalanga across three municipalities;

• Four are in Limpopo across four municipalities and

• Four are in the Free State across three municipalities.

The by-elections includes two dissolved councils in the Northern Cape, where PR candidates must also be elected (nine PR seats in Phokwane and three PR seats in Renosterberg).

Voters are reminded to only vote at the voting station where they are registered.

They must also:

  • Bring their green barcoded ID document or smartcard ID.
  • Wear a mask and observe social distancing at all times.
  • Bring their own pen if they wish to avoid using the ones provided.

COVID-19 protocols

• Strict social distancing practices both outside and inside voting stations.

• The mandatory wearing of masks over nose and mouth of all persons within the boundaries of the voting station.

• The application of hand sanitisers to all persons entering and exiting the voting station.

• The replacement of the traditional indelible ink marker pens with an indelible ink liquid, which will be applied from a bottle to the thumb of voters using cotton buds, which will be disposed after each use. – SAnews.gov.za

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